Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall [Book Review]

Born To Run Book Review

If you’re a runner, and you haven’t read “BORN TO RUN” by 2017 – just go buy it HERE. Really, this book about trail running is required reading. Never before has a book inspired so many people to go hit the trails and start running in places, in ways, they never did before. It certainly inspired me to start running up mountain trails here in Thailand that before I’d only considered hiking.

I first read this book back in 2012, and then I read it again at the beginning of 2017 so I could stay motivated to push myself to run an ultra-marathon this year. The first time I devoured this book, I immediately found some New Balance Minimus minimalist shoes and hit the trail. My first year and a half was glorious. I was spending nine hours per week on the trails on average and I was fitter probably than I have EVER been, and that is saying a lot because in my twenties I was running and biking a lot and doing lots of races – including triathlons. Now I’m in my late forties and my resting pulse is 46 most mornings. I’m doing 6,000 to 8,000 meters of vertical climbing most months, and my foot and leg problems – especially plantar fasciitis – are gone.

But, I did break my 5th metatarsal in my right foot and I’ve since said goodbye to the minimalist movement. I now wear Nike Terra Kiger v2’s which give me a nice hard sole and I’ve begun racking up the miles on the trails again.

So that is a bit about how the book inspired me. I also met a friend on the trails that immediately went out and bought Merrill ultra-minimalistic shoes and we ran together for some months before he moved. This book is creating, has created already, a massive trail-running movement that is hard to understand. It’s that good. Anyway, here’s a bit about the book since this IS a book review.

The story starts as Christopher McDougall (CM from here on out) travels to Mexico to cover an impromptu race.

There is a lot going on as the author jumps around a bit. It’s not annoying, it actually builds the drama because what you want to hear about is how the runners in this never before done race, are going to get there to Mexico and line up for it despite every athlete having some sort of dysfunction and limitation, except maybe super-runner, Scott Jurek.

Various topics like the history of running, the how-to and physiology side of it, and mini-stories about the runners in the race and Caballo Blanco are told – all of which add to the excitement of the story and increase the readers interest in how it’s all going to play out.

The author relays his journey to us, describing how he was fascinated by the Tarahumara running tribe and how he was able to get there, find them, and find Caballo Blanco – the White Horse, ex-boxer and now accomplished trail runner who lived in the same area as the Tarahumara since moving there on his own years ago.

CM hears about Caballo’s ultimate dream – to pull some of the top runners from the USA down to Mexico to race in the Copper Canyons against runners in the Tarahumara tribe – who run in festive colored and flowing shirts.

The way the whole thing comes together is nearly comical and magical in equal portions, as at any time it seems something will derail the whole event.

You may not even care about ultra-running, or running at all. You may be a cyclist. You might be a stay at home dad. The story is fascinating for all the different elements that are pulled together into what can probably be called the best running book – ever. It’s the best ever because the story is just so captivating.

McDougall tells the story from within the story, for the most part. Some of it was relayed to him. He is a big, gangly runner who was plagued by injuries and he was wondering if going with minimalist shoes would somehow allow his muscles and tendons to become stronger and eventually allow him to run races pain-free. The Tarahumara run in pieces of automobile tires strapped to their feet like sandals. Some of their best runners are in their forties. Another character, “Barefoot Ted” comes down for the race and is wearing his own line of minimalist sandals too.

The energy of the book picks the reader up and launches them outside to see what they can do running in minimalistic shoes. It did for me and some of my friends. It will probably cross your mind too.

BOTTOM LINE!

Get this book and then get out there on the trails in some minimalist footwear and see if you’re one of the people that can make it work. As I said, I ran in New Balance Minimus shoes for over a year and then pushed far too hard running down thousands of steps at a mountain on Langkawi Island in Malaysia… fracturing my Right 5th metatarsal. That ended that. I still wear fairly minimalist shoes, but “Nike Terra Kiger II’s” are nothing like the bare-bones slippers that the Minimus are.

Have you read this book? Did you like it?

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